MILWAUKEE -- Three weeks ago, veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez, he of 292 career saves, the single-season saves record and a World Series ring, said he has never been more frustrated on the baseball field. That feeling has not abated."It's like you get a couple steps forward and then 10 back," said Rodriguez, who allowed the final two runs of the Marlins' comeback from a seven-run deficit on Tuesday. The Brewers eventually won that game in 10 innings, 13-12. But the outing continued a frustrating summer for Rodriguez, who at 30 years old and in his 10th full Major League season is having the worst statistical year of his career by nearly every measure. He has a 4.17 ERA, 1.527 WHIP, .282 opponents' batting average and 4.40 FIP. He also has an aching back and a badly bruised left groin, injuries that Rodriguez called "little stuff" and only fleetingly acknowledges when asked. "The inconsistency on my release point has been pretty much miserable," Rodriguez said. "I'm not able to spot or command my pitches when I want to and need to. I'm really frustrated by that. But the ball is coming out of my hand pretty good -- if I want to reach back, I can reach back and I know it's there, but that makes no sense when you're all over the place. "But you know what? I'm a warrior, and nothing is going to stop me. Confidence is still there. I just have to keep fighting." Rodriguez is not the only Brewers reliever having an off year. Jose Veras, who entered the season as the projected seventh-inning specialist, has 24 walks in 33 2/3 innings, his highest walk rate since a nine-game stint with the Yankees in 2007. Closer John Axford has four blown saves and a 4.73 ERA. Manager Ron Roenicke conceded that the bullpen inconsistencies have caused changes to the way he uses starting pitchers. "I thought we always got a guy out last year because we knew the game was going to be over when we went to our bullpen," Roenicke said. "I think that helped our starters to be strong all year. We're still trying to do that, to make sure we're not pushing our starters that much, but I've noticed it seems like we're getting deeper into pitch counts with starting pitchers this year than we did before. I think they can handle that."
Weeks rewards Roenicke for sticking with him
MILWAUKEE -- Had Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks been a bad hitter for the majority of his career, manager Ron Roenicke said it might have been easy to give up on the former first-round Draft pick when he struggled through much of the first half of this season.For the last two-plus weeks, though, the second-year skipper has been glad that wasn't the case. Entering Wednesday, Weeks was batting .306 with eight RBIs and seven extra-base hits in his last 16 games. That stretch includes five multi-hit games after registering just five such efforts in his first 60 appearances of the season. In Tuesday's 13-12 win over the Marlins, Weeks went 3-for-5 and put a swing on a double down the left-field line that Roenicke said was reminiscent of the player he saw last year. "We've definitely stuck with him, no question," Roenicke said. "But for good reasons. The most important one is, Rickie's always been a good hitter. At his age, why would we expect him not to hit?" One potential reason is the severe left ankle sprain Weeks suffered last season. Not only did that alter his swing when he came back, Roenicke said, but it also bothered Weeks through Spring Training and up until recently. Weeks, who has his left ankle taped for every game, told Roenicke it's been feeling batter the last month, which happens to have been his best month of the season. Neither player nor manager has allowed the ankle to be an excuse. However, Weeks did say on Wednesday that he's feeling the best he has all year, and his slump, which hit a low on May 27 with a .152 batting average, is likely a thing of the past. "It's been behind me," said Weeks, who bumped his average up to .194 entering Wednesday. "I have a very short-term memory. I'm just coming to the ballpark every day. I'm not going to say I'm back, but I'm putting in the work." That's good news for Roenicke, who said he's glad to see his six-hole hitter performing the way everyone expects him to perform. "He's big to our offense," Roenicke said. "When he's doing what he was doing last night and what he's been doing for a while now, it makes a lot of difference."
'57 Milwaukee Braves featured in new book
MILWAUKEE -- The beer-swilling, Goliath-beating 1957 Milwaukee Braves are the subject of "Bushville Wins!" a new book by author John Klima that hit bookstores on Tuesday.Klima's research included interviews with former Braves Hank Aaron, Del Crandall, Johnny Logan, Red Schoendienst and current Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, and features new material from letters and photographs provided by the family of former Milwaukee Sentinel baseball writer Lou Chapman. Those '57 Braves battled the more seasoned Brooklyn Dodgers all season and then beat the mighty Yankees in the World Series. But Klima's story begins much earlier, to the very beginning of Major League Baseball in Milwaukee, with Braves owner Lou Perini's unprecedented move from Boston. "'Bushville Wins,' is really another way of saying, 'the underdog wins,'" Klima told the Brewers fan blog, Reviewing the Brew. "Nobody gave Milwaukee a chance to win -- they were thought to be too small town, too Midwestern, too small market, too little to matter. So you had a very dynamic team, time and place where the people came together, and you had the nation rooting for this small-town team to beat the big bully in the room, the Yankees, and return baseball balance to the rest of the nation." "Bushville Wins!" was published by Thomas Dunne Books.
Six military branches represented at Miller Park
MILWAUKEE -- When it came to the Brewers honoring those who protect and serve the United States and its freedom, nobody was left out at Miller Park on Independence Day.Six different branches of the military -- including the Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Air National Guard -- were represented in simultaneous ceremonial first pitches before Wednesday's game. And when it came time for the national anthem, one flag was not enough. Instead, members of the Army National Guard, the Navy, the Marines and the Coast Guard presented four U.S. Flags before Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Robinson of the United States Army sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.